If the moon landing was considered one giant leap for mankind… what happens this week just may blow that out of the water.
We only know about five percent of what the universe has to offer. The new James Webb telescope – which is 25 years in the making – will allow us to see the other 95% and take a look back in time.
It’s hard to imagine, but think of the stars…. they’re millions of light-years away from us. When we see their light, we’re not seeing them as they are today but rather, how they were millions of years ago. The James Webb telescope will allow us to see the universe as it was well before mankind.
Amber Straughn is an astrophysicist working on the James Webb, “with this telescope, we plan to look back in time over thirteen and a half billion years to see the very first galaxies that were born after the big bang”
This telescope will completely revolutionize our understanding of the universe. For instance, It’s believed there could be other planets that have a similar atmosphere to earth. This telescope will be able to confirm that. It does so by using thermal imaging – think of that as night vision goggles for the sky. The lens for the telescope is so sensitive that any light would be blinding. So a barrier was constructed to keep that light out.
A sun shield will block out light from the earth and the sun. That shield is made up of five sheets no thicker than a strand of human hair. The layer facing the sun will reach about 230 degrees. On the telescope side, it will get to minus 370 degrees. That’s all to protect this powerful instrument.
The telescope itself is three stories tall and as wide as a tennis court so it has been folded up and fit inside a rocket. It will have to unfold perfectly once it’s in space. There are only a few backup plans if that deployment were to hit a snag. Those plans involve what you and I do when something isn’t working… literally to shake it.
Unlike the Hubble Telescope, a technician can’t be sent to fix the James Webb. It’s a million miles away so NASA has one shot to get it right. But they’re ready for this. They’ve been testing this telescope under various extremes to make sure it doesn’t become the most expensive piece of space junk.
The James Webb will launch on Christmas Day. It’ll be the summer of 2022 when we’ll get our first images. That’s how long it’ll take to cool down and be calibrated to be able to see the first images.